WESTFIELD — Two local actors will be featured in the Main Street Players’ production of “The Civil War” the musical, showing now through April 19 at the Westfield Playhouse at 1836 State Road 32 West in Eagletown.
Drawing on letters, diaries, firsthand accounts, and the words of Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Walt Whitman, “The Civil War” is a retrospective song cycle that covers the broad emotional landscape of a nation at war and puts a human face on one of the darkest chapters of our nation’s history.
The original Broadway production was nominated for multiple Tony Awards including Best Musical and features a score filled with gospel, country, rock and folk by Frank Wildhorn.
“Rarely do you see one piece of work that’s so diverse in its styles,” actor Hank Kratky said.
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Kratky of Fortville had never heard of the show before auditioning, but “it’s a musical,” so he is happy to drive all the way to Westfield for rehearsals and performances.
Kratky sings “Brother, My Brother,” the opening number that sets the backdrop for the show.
Beth Ray-Scott, director of Ricks-Weil Theater Company in Greenfield, also appears in the show. She heard about the show after auditions had been conducted, but she loves the show so much, she called to see if there were parts left — and there were.
She sings “Missing you, My Bill,” a song about a wife who has been left at home while her husband is off fighting in the war, and “Glory,” the finale.
Ray-Scott explains that the show is done in black box theater-style; that is, on a plain bare stage.
“The costumes are the scenery,” Ray-Scott said.
Elisa Clark, wife of the director and costumer for the show, has gone to great lengths to create historically accurate costumes.
Ray-Scott wears a hoop skirt, a chemise, pantaloons, and a corset — the latter, a bit to her chagrin.
“You can’t wear the dress without the corset,” Ray-Scott said, adding that although she is looking forward to the show, she’s not looking forward to two and a half hours in a corset.
Since Main Street Players’ inception 13 years ago, the company has done “The Civil War” twice, and director Niles Clark was been involved both times.
The first two productions, he was a performer; now, he is both performing and directing.
Clark and four others from the original production have returned to reprise their roles. Clark is pleased to be sharing the stage with his daughter, Adriane. Brian Koning, another performer from the original production, is also sharing the stage with family; his son, Tyler, is in the show.
As to why they’re doing it a third time, producer Jan Jamison feels strongly about a reprise: “The music gets into your soul. You can’t listen to it enough.”
Jamison encourages people who plan to attend to get their tickets early. It’s a small venue, and the show sold out the first time, Jamison said.